Office

Cloud App SecurityOffice 365, Google Drive, Sharepoint: businesses love them, but we ask if security vendors do enough to help partners address their known vulnerabilities – profitably!

In a recent post, we looked at the known security limitations of cloud-delivered applications like Office 365, Google Drive, Sharepoint, and others.

As we pointed out, identifying security weaknesses in these platforms and providing cloud app customers with solutions to them can prove profitable, according to industry commentators – but are security vendors even addressing this space in the first place, let alone in a way that enables vendors to make viable margins out of it?

Cloud application security: how big is the pie?

The first point we need to make here is that the potential market for these kind of security solutions is big and growing. Since 2011, as this Worldwide Cloud Applications Market Forecast 2015 – 2019 shows, the Cloud applications market has more than doubled, and now accounts for 20% of the overall enterprise applications space.

By 2019, Cloud applications subscription revenues could make up 35% of the total addressable market opportunity.

Captured amongst all that, of course, are the very applications businesses most want MSPs and other partners to provide – hosted email, file sharing, collaboration, and so on.

And these are the very applications that, whilst delivered in a secure manner, are not fully able to secure the content that passes through them, making them vulnerable to risks like advanced and hidden malware, ransomware, phishing attacks, leaking of sensitive data, file sharing on unauthorised devices, and remote user network breaches.

In short, there’s plenty of pie available – and cloud application security is potentially the utensil that enables MSPs and other partners to carve themselves a sizeable slice of it!

Delivering security for cloud apps: how hard can it be?

But the second point we have to consider is that cloud applications need security that is built expressly for cloud computing conditions – and existing security techniques fall down badly in this respect, resulting in few solutions that are fit for purpose.

Just take a look at traditional web monitoring, for example – it funnels traffic out of the cloud and into a separate service, adding significant latency that negatively impacts both performance and capacity.

Only if pre-cloud approaches are consigned to the dustbin, and direct cloud-to-cloud API integration is offered in its stead, can vendors play strongly in this space, and partners reap the benefits.

In this scenario, a literally instant cloud app security deployment is possible, requiring nothing more than the submission of administrator credentials for the apps in question.

Bundling, licensing, pricing – can partners make money out of cloud app security?

Quite apart from the fact that very few vendors are actually active in the cloud app security space in any serious way, my third point is as much to do with the partner model as it is with the scarcity of those offerings.

Even if solutions were plentiful, reselling them in a subscription or perpetual licensing model produces the same challenges that any other reseller in any other IT market encounters – high upfront subscription costs, unpredictable income, lack of flexibility to scale services up and down (and missing out on the additional revenue that such upscaling generates).

The risks of this approach are well documented - but then if so few vendors are in this space in the first place, how many of them do we think are in a position to offer the potentially more profitable MSP alternative?

Then there’s the question of how vendors actually incorporate cloud app security offerings into their overall security portfolio – or don’t! Currently, the view from the bridge here is that one prominent vendor is now bundling cloud app security within its existing security services, in a cloud-based MSP model, at no extra licensing charge – but other vendors haven’t even started to play catch-up on this.

In conclusion: cloud app security vendors could do better

There it is, then: cloud app security solutions are rarer than hen’s teeth!

They demand an instantly deployable, cloud-centric architecture that most security vendors simply haven’t applied to this space, a margin-rich partner model that the vast majority of vendors seem unready to offer, and a “business as usual” attitude to bundling that, for many vendors, seems too radical a string to add to their bow.

That massive cloud app pie is there for the securing – but, as it stands, most vendors aren’t even making a dent in the crust, still less serving up anything that profit-hungry partners would find a tasty proposition.

microsoft

Originally posted by Mary Jo Foley for All About Microsoft on ZDNet

Microsoft is kicking off the rollout of Office 2016 for Windows on September 22, and is adding a new branch updating scheme, similar to the one available for Windows 10.

It's not a big surprise given recent leaks, but Microsoft officials are confirming that the Office 2016 for Windows rollout will begin on September 22.

September 22 is the date when the next version of Office for Windows desktops will be generally available. Office 365 Personal and Home users will be able to start manually installing Office 2016 apps for Windows on September 22 from Office.com. Microsoft will begin pushing out the new Office 2016 apps via automatic updates in October 2015. Those with volume-licensing contracts will be able to download Office 2016 starting October 1 from the Volume Licensing Centre.

Office 2016 for Windows desktops is the full-featured set of Office apps and the successor to Office 2013. Microsoft released an IT/pro preview of Office 2016 for Windows in March and a public preview in May 2015. The new Office suite runs on Windows 7, 8 and 10 PCs, laptops and tablets.

As part of the rollout, Microsoft is making some changes to the Office update model.

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Those with Office 365 ProPlus subscriptions will be able to continue getting monthly feature and security updates. Taking a page from the Windows 10 playbook, Microsoft is calling this monthly updated release the "Current Branch." The next Current Branch release will be September 22 and will include all the new Office 2016 app updates, according to a September 10 blog post explaining Microsoft's rollout plans.

There also will be a new Office 365 Pro Plus Current Branch for Business updating option. This is for business customers and IT pros who may prefer to wait a few months before rolling out new versions or updates to Office for testing purposes.

Similar to Microsoft's new Current Branch for Business updating path for Windows, the Office Current Branch for Business will provide users with "three cumulative feature updates per year," plus monthly security updates, officials said. That means the next Current Branch for Business build of Office 2016 -- which will include the same feature set as the September 22 release, plus four additional months of security updates -- will be out in February 2016, according to today's blog post.

There are relatively few new features in Office 2016 for Windows. Data loss prevention comes to the Office apps with this release. There also are additional document co-authoring capabilities, new "Tell Me" navigation support, integration with Power BI, and more lockdown/rights management capabilities in the new version of Office for Windows.

Microsoft made the Mac version of Office 2016 available to Office 365 subscribers in July. Later this month, Microsoft plans to offer Office 2016 for Mac available to those who prefer to buy a single copy outright.

Microsoft delivers first public preview of Office 2016 for Mac

Microsoft delivers first public preview of Office 2016 for MacMicrosoft has released the first public preview of Office 2016 for Mac, its updated Office suite for Mac OS 10.10 users, which is due out this summer.

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Update: A few more reader questions and answers about Office 2016 for Windows' coming rollout (delivered via a Microsoft spokesperson):

Q: Will Office 365 Business Premium -- and not just Office 365 users with ProPlus -- automatically get these updates and be serviced via branches?

A: Yes, Business customers will also receive the 2016 apps and will default to the Current Branch. Business Premium customers can choose to move to the Current Branch for Business if they choose to at any time, once available.

Q: Is there going to be an equivalent to Windows 10's Long Term Servicing branch for O365 users who don't ever want to see new features between Office releases?

A: We recommend using the Office 2016 Volume Licensing (MSI) version for customers who want to have Office installed on specialty systems that do not require feature update but can continue to get security update and bug fixes.

Q: If you are an O365 Pro Plus subscriber right now, are you already getting three buckets of updates to the Office apps annually?

A: Current Office 365 ProPlus customers are on the Current Branch today. We will, however, move all ProPlus customers to the thrice-yearly update schedule by moving them to the Current Branch for Business. Customers can choose to remain on the current branch. All updates are delivered via the Office CDN or deployed via the organization's administrator (not Windows Update).

Q: If you are on Current Branch Office 365, are the thrice-yearly updates forced/mandatory -- the way Current Branch updates are on Windows 10?

A: Current Branch can contain feature, security and non-security fixes on a monthly basis. Customers have a choice to stay on a build as long as they choose to but we recommend they update to the latest version in order to take advantage of any new feature and security fixes.

Q: Can those running Office 2016 for Windows preview upgrade directly to RTM version?

A: It depends on how a customer has accessed the Office 2016 Preview.

Commercial Office 365 customers who have accessed the Office 2016 Preview through the First Release program will continue to get the latest updates across their Office 365 workloads, including Office client. If they would like to revert to the production release of Office 2016 when it becomes available, they can uninstall the Office 2016 Preview from programs and features and download the production version of Office 2016 from their My Software page.

Office 2016 Preview for IT Pros and Developers will continue to get the latest updates across their Office 365 workloads, including Office client. If they would like to revert to the production release of Office 2016 when it becomes available, they can uninstall the Office 2016 Preview from programs and features and download the production version of Office 2016 from their My Software page.

Office 365 Consumer Subscribers: If a customer joined the Office 2016 Preview through their Office 365 My Accounts page, they can simply uninstall the Office 2016 Preview from Windows Programs and Features and install the production release of Office 2016 from their My Accounts page. Office 2016 Preview (no Office 365 subscription):

The Office 2016 Preview will expire at Fall 2015 and will enter a reduced functionality mode. Customers will have the option to convert to a paid Office 365 subscription or they may choose uninstall the Office 2016 Preview from Windows and re-install any licensed version of Office that they have.

 

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Originally published by AppRiver

New Mobile Device Management (MDM) features are coming home to AppRiver Office 365 Plus, including the ability to selectively wipe mobile devices. Selective wipe of mobile units allows an administrator to revoke access to and delete corporate email that has been synced to a device, as well as specific data associated with Office 365 apps on the device, while retaining any unassociated personal data.

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Selective wipe will work across a diverse range of phones and tablets, including iOS, Android and Windows Phone devices and is included at no additional cost for all AppRiver Office 365 Plus plans. The addition of the selective wipe capability and MDM features listed below to the already robust Office 365 Plus arsenal ensures that your Office 365 experience remains easy, effective and affordable

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Mobile Device Management options include:

Selective wipe

Ability to perform either a full remote wipe of a corporate smartphone or tablet or a selective wipe of Office 365 company data from an employee’s device while leaving any personal data in place.

Conditional access

Set up security policies to ensure that Office 365 corporate email and documents can be accessed only on phones and tablets that are managed by your company and that are compliant with your IT policies.

Device management

Set and manage security policies, such as device-level pin lock and jailbreak or root detection, to help prevent unauthorized users from accessing corporate email and data on a lost or stolen device. 

Mobile Device Management Options introduced to AppRiver Office 365 Plus

Cloud-based management for devices that run on iOS (iPhone, iPad), Android and Windows Phone will be supported and the roll out for these capabilities will be completed in 4-6 weeks. All features will be included with all AppRiver Office 365 Plus and bundle licenses.

Contact our Sales Team today on  0118 9898 222 to find out more about Office 365

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Infosecurity Europe will take place on 2nd June 2015 and we’d like you to join us for our short Email Security and Migrations Workshop, on the same day, at Hilton London Olympia, (near Infosecurity – London Olympia) from 11.30am to 3.30 pm. Can’t attend the whole event? That’s ok, you can drop-in to the Workshop at a time suitable for you, where we’ll also provide you with lunch. At the event, you’ll be able to:

  • Have a hands-on demo of email encryption, file sharing, tracking and DLP technology and how it can be applied to solve daily problems for organisations.
  • Try Hosted Exchange and Office 365 migration with BitTitan.
  • See how email archiving works with Global Relay.

You’ll also meet AppRiver product specialists, who will answer any questions about keeping businesses secure and how to provide added value solutions to your customers and increasing their satisfaction levels. The Blue Solutions team will be available to discuss pricing and the contact details of our team. We’re also going to enter all attendees into our prize draw to win an iPad, so we hope you’ll take this opportunity to win the prize! As the event will be by invitation only, please follow this link to register your interest and then we’ll send you an invite at a later stage. We hope to see you at our event.

Yes reserve my space

CompTIA ImageAt the last CompTia EMEA Conference (November 2014), our Director Mark Charleton, was interviewed by Richard Tubb for his podcast: The 3 Best MSP tools from the 2014 CompTIA EMEA Conference.

It was a great opportunity for Mark to talk about AppRiver, the web and email security vendor, Office 365 and the benefits for MSPs to work with Blue Solutions. You can listen to Richard Tubb and Mark Charleton at CompTia

For anyone who wants to read a transcript of the podcast, it is also available at Richard Tubb's website.

Visit our website or contact our product specialists on 0118 9898 222 and find out about AppRiver solutions.

 

Windows 8.1

On March 1, 2014 Microsoft began offering the Windows Enterprise Upgrade in Volume Licensing.

The following are changes related to this offering:

  • Windows Pro Upgrade: The Windows Pro Upgrade remains available for purchase without SA.
  • Windows Enterprise Upgrade: The Windows Enterprise Upgrade is offered as of March 1, 2014 and allows customers with a qualifying OS to upgrade to Windows Enterprise.
    • Downgrade Rights:  Windows Enterprise edition has downgrade rights to previous versions of Windows Enterprise in addition to the same downgrade rights as Windows Pro.
    • Open Value: Customers may be eligible for an Up to Date Discount based on existing Windows 8.1 Pro, Windows 8 Pro and Windows 7 Professional licenses.
    • Software Assurance:  Except as stated below, SA may only be purchased for Windows Enterprise Upgrade license.
      • Select Plus, Open Value, and Open License Programs: customers may continue to acquire SA for new devices licensed for Windows 8.1 or 8 Pro or Windows 7 Professional OEM or FPP within 90 days of purchase until July 1, 2014.
      • Renewals: Customers who bought SA for Windows Pro may renew SA on their covered devices without the need to buy a Windows Enterprise Upgrade license.
      • Purchasing Windows Upgrade + SA: Any customer in a volume licensing program which requires SA and who previously purchased Windows Pro Upgrade + SA may continue to purchase Pro Upgrade + SA until the end of their enrollment or agreement.  Upon entering a new enrollment or agreement the customer will purchase Enterprise Upgrade + SA.

Got any questions about this Windows 8.1 upgrade? Contact our product specialists on 0118 9898 222 for help.

Channel partners building business around cloud-based productivity suite; Trial conversion, seat count and revenue growth see triple-digit increase

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AppRiver’s popular Microsoft Office 365 productivity suite is helping channel partners capture top-line revenue, expand their service offerings and grow their cloud businesses. Since the company introduced two-tier pricing last year, it has seen a 240 percent increase in the total number of AppRiver partners engaged to sell Office 365. Revenue growth and total number of Office 365 seats sold also grew by 330 percent.

The company has a close, long-standing relationship with Microsoft and is currently one of only a handful of Office 365 syndicated hosting partners in the world. That partnership grants immediate access to expertise, support and insight into the Microsoft product roadmap, which adds significant value to AppRiver’s own partner community.

“There is a real financial incentive for partners to include Office 365 in their product portfolio because demand is on the rise,” said Scott Paul, senior director of sales, AppRiver. “More and more businesses understand that they can move to the cloud and increase productivity for less cost, without having to give up familiar Microsoft applications.”

All Mountain Technologies (AMT) recently signed on to resell AppRiver’s Office 365 to help maximize their customers’ technology investments.

“About half of the time, customers come to AMT wanting to learn more about Office 365 and the ways it can increase business productivity and enhance bottom line,” explains Jonathan Zapp, director of sales and marketing at All Mountain Technologies. “The rest of the time, we recommend Office 365 to clients who use outdated services or hardware that’s reaching end of life.”

There are several reasons why Office 365 from AppRiver is unique:

  • True On-Demand, Pay-As-You-Go Service: Office 365 from AppRiver allows partners to own the billing process, generate additional revenue and sell/service customers in a way that makes sense for their business. The company does not require minimum packaging spends or annual commitments, thereby allowing partners to mix and match services for specific users (and adjust customer consumption or user count) without fear of penalty.
  • Maintain Renewal Margin: With AppRiver, the margins are preserved even after renewal and throughout the life of the customer relationship.
  • Account Maintenance: Partners can manage all Office 365 services from a single console to add users, manage groups and send maintenance reminders and notices. AppRiver will maintain the Microsoft Partner of Record status and will not interfere or break the record without first receiving partner consent.
  • Partner Certification: Partners can learn the ropes at AppRiver University and earn certifications in both the sale and support of Office 365 once they have demonstrated mastery of required skill sets.
  • Phenomenal Care™: High-touch customer support is available from trained employees24 hours a day, every day.

The AppRiver Phenomenal Care model has become a hallmark of the company’s success, and includes expert migration assistance to anyone who needs it. That’s important because migrations can be difficult, slow and problematic. And migrating to a new cloud email service only compounds the difficulty. Perhaps that is why Gartner recently found that organizations will likely need vendor-supplied support to resolve migration issues.

“It was difficult, and often time consuming, to work with Microsoft Support,” said Zapp. “AMT takes pride in our Always-On™ Managed Services and so it was a no-brainer to choose AppRiver for its consistently great 24/7 support. We operate in a close-knit community where word of mouth and reputation go a long way. AppRiver’s swift conflict-resolution time has actually helped to increase our bottom line because customers trust that they can leave their IT worries with us and we will work through any technical issue before it impacts business operation.”

To date, AppRiver has successfully resolved 100 percent of the customer-facing support interactions for Office 365.

To learn more about AppRiver’s Office 365 or how to become a partner, please contact our Product Specialist Nicola Boswell on 0118 9898 219.

AppRiver logo largerversionIn case you missed our latest news, AppRiver, a leading provider of email messaging and Websecurity solutions, confirmed we are its first UK distributor. We're going to add all AppRiver’s products to our portfolio – including Office365 Plus and Secure Hosted Exchange, all with the additional flexibility afforded from monthly billing - a deviation to yearly contracts imposed by many other vendors. The partnership is already yielding results with two of our customers currently trialling Office365 Plus.

Our Director and co-founder Mark Charleton  commented:

“We’re extremely excited by the opportunities this partnership opens up to us, not least a customer waiting to trial one of AppRiver’s services before the ink was even dry on our agreement. With almost 20 years’ experience and seeing a lot of change in a competitive industry, we recognise the value of supporting MSPs and resellers in creating and building profitable I.T. businesses.

Our transition from box shifters to a value add distributor means we focus on working with vendors who are committed to the channel and delivering viable solutions to SMBs. AppRiver is the perfect fit for us and its products will be a key addition to our portfolio, where we’re seeing demand, particularly for email security, encryption and hosted exchange. Add to that the flexibility of offering monthly commitments instead of annual contracts, combined with its ‘phenomenal care’ package, and we’ve two great differentiators that we know will be a winning combination.”

AppRiver offers its partners a management console, designed with the two tiers needed – a portal where Blue Solutions can log in and create its partners, and then a separate portal where resellers log in and create end users. Both can be branded accordingly.

Other AppRiver Partner benefits include:

  • Recurring revenue in the rapidly growing market for email hosting and security solutions.
  • No set-up fees, up-front investments, certifications or minimum revenue requirements.
  • Affordable per-user, pay-as-you-go services that give greater flexibility and more control without hidden charges under the surface.
  • AppRiver’s Phenomenal Care™, 24/7 support to help customers navigate smoothly through any issues that arise.
  • Access to AppRiver University – its ongoing training and professional development program, offering regular webinars to keep partners up to date on the latest services release and upgrades.

We'll be bringing you more updates on the AppRiver, Office 365 and Hosted Exchange product suites. Our product specialists are available on 0118 9898 222 to help with any questions.